The GAA is remaining cautious about Friday’s publication of ‘Reopening Ireland’.
Viewed dispassionately the plans don’t include the All-Ireland stages nor do they really extend beyond pilot projects in June and July. These include a number of Gaelic games events plus rugby, soccer and horse racing.
The three GAA events include a football league final in Croke Park – there is no guarantee that the Division One decider will be able to take place given the counties with a championship match the following week, a stipulation made clear when the fixtures calendar was launched.
The other events chosen are the Connacht football semi-final between Roscommon and Galway in Hyde Park on Sunday July 4th and the previous day’s Munster hurling semi-final between champions Limerick and Cork.
Also included are the league finals in camogie, on June 20th, and women’s football on Saturday, June 26th, in Croke Park. It hasn’t been clarified how many spectators will be allowed into these pilot events but it is believed to be no more than 10 per cent of capacity and possibly less.
Although a statement afterwards expressed that the GAA was “delighted with confirmation of the planned return of spectators to our games on a pilot basis in the coming weeks,” Croke Park was at pains to emphasise that officials would need to analyse the document and if necessary, seek clarification.
For instance during his public address outside Government Buildings, Taoiseach Micheál Martin appeared to green-light a return of attendances for club matches as well as the later stages of the national leagues.
“Now with all of the other events announced previously, we are able to add the following changes. From June 7th up to 200 people can attend outdoor events in venues with a minimum capacity of 5,000 and up to 100 can attend other outdoor events.”
There is ambiguity in that it isn’t immediately clear whether these limits include those already permitted to attend: players, officials and media. If the announcement however means that 100 or 200 spectators can attend club matches, that would be a major plus for the GAA.
It may equally apply only to intercounty fixtures. These limits will expand in July to 200 and 500. Further increases will be considered in August and there was no further disclosure on the potential size of attendances for All-Ireland finals and semi-finals.
A note from association president Larry McCarthy and DG Tom Ryan to clubs promised more detail next week.
“Ahead of the return to games on Monday week (June 7th) we intend to issue a detailed correspondence to all clubs next week. This correspondence will also outline the implications of the Government’s announcements this evening for our counties and clubs.”
Other pilot events taking place in June and July: Rugby, Leinster v Dragons, RDS, June 11th, which will be permitted a crowd of 1200, Ireland v Japan, Aviva, July 3rd, Ireland v USA, Aviva, July 10th.
Soccer, Shamrock Rovers v Finn Harps at Tallaght Stadium and Cork City v Cabinteely, Turners Cross, June 11th and Shamrock Rovers v Drogheda United, June 26th and Shamrock Rovers v Dundalk, July 2nd – both at Tallaght Stadium. WNL Shelbourne v Cork, June 26th.
Horse Racing’s Irish Derby on June 26th and in athletics the national championships in Santry have also been selected as has the Irish Open golf weekend in Mount Juliet, July 1st-4th.